The only topic more talked about than traffic at the watercooler these days is the parking situation downtown. Office managers and COOs in offices located from I-35 to Mopac are hosting meetings with their teams trying hard to solve the ever growing parking problem. As this issue becomes increasingly dire, Austin’s top companies and real estate firms are getting creative with how to park their employees. Here are five creative parking solutions that just might work for your firm:
1. Lease Spaces from a Residential Complex
With the recent proliferation of residential housing in downtown Austin has come a wealth of new parking spaces that, for the most part, are empty during the day. Savvy real estate developers have caught on and are taking advantage of this by negotiating lease agreements to use these residential parking spaces during the workday. For instance, Cielo Realty Partners has reportedly struck a deal with AMLI Residential to lease parking at their residential projects near Austin Music Hall, which Cielo purchased in late 2014. Firms with downtown office space can take note of this strategy and work with their real estate team to seek out similar opportunities.
2. Leverage your Neighbors
While many firms find parking a problem, there are others that have extra spaces to their name. (Yeah, we’re jealous too.) Your broker may be able to help you identify firms in your building or nearby buildings that are not utilizing all their spaces and help you strike a deal to lease them for a fee. Your neighbor gets a new revenue stream and you get more spaces for your employees. Talk about a win-win!
An idea originally popularized by companies in the San Francisco Bay area, several Austin firms are now offering off-site parking and providing shuttles to usher employees between the office and these nearby lots. For example, RetailMeNot, who offices in downtown Austin at 301 Congress, for some time had employees park at the Austin American Statesman across the river and provided a shuttle service at peak times during the day. To keep employees from feeling landlocked, the company provides free lunch four days per week and breakfast twice per week. They also offer company Segways for employees to run errands around downtown.
4. Form Transportation Partnerships
Austin’s transportation scene has recently become even more dynamic since the popularization of services like car2go, Uber and Lyft. These transportation companies offer business plans where by firms may set up corporate accounts and allow employees, within set parameters, to charge their rides to their company. Firms are trading out their parking bills for cab receipts, which, in some cases, can provide a cost savings over time.
5. Incentivize Employees to find Alternate Transportation
Another alternative to paying for more parking is to incentivize your employees to find alternative transportation methods on their own. Some companies are offering to pay directly to their employees a portion of what they would have otherwise paid for parking if they commit to walk to work or to taking public transportation. In some cases, employers have found that the additional cash to the employees often outweighs the inconvenience of finding alternative means of getting to work (for those employees who live in or around downtown). Additionally, some firms are even creating competition within the office to promote cycling to work. For instance, Sparefoot, a fast-growing startup located downtown, recently hosted a competition amongst its employees for who could log the most miles on their bike in a month. This organically encouraged dozens of employees to cycle to work, reducing their parking costs.
Savvy tenant representation brokers, like our team at AQUILA Commercial, are ahead of these trends and can help offer constructive solutions for your firm’s parking problems. A good broker should understand your parking requirements and be willing to help you on the front end of the leasing or renewal process. Schedule a consultation today to discuss your parking solutions.